Reporter Compares Obama, Bush
Published: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, April 28, 2013 21:04
New York Times reporter Charles Savage compared President Barack Obama’s foreign policy to that of George W. Bush on Thursday.
Savage, a recipient of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on presidential signing statements, compared the Bush and Obama administrations’ approaches to the legal theory of executive power. Despite campaign promises to the contrary, Obama has largely continued Bush administration policies in this area, Savage said.
“The Bush administration was in the [business] of creating executive power precedence. … These precedents from the Bush years … will influence how the presidency handles itself for generations,” Savage said. “[Obama] talked about how when he was elected there would be no more ignoring the law when it was convenient, … but it became apparent very quickly that there would be much greater continuity with the Bush years than anyone had expected.”
Savage said that neither party is serious about checking the power of the executive.
“Obama is not the civil libertarian that many of his supporters hoped he would be,” he said. “Each side is in favor of more power when their side has the White House.”
Savage also discussed his visit to Guantanamo Bay last week.
“If you’re a reporter, you’re surrounded by minders,” he said. “You don’t go anywhere not under observation. You have no control of your life over there.”
Savage commented on Guantanamo Bay’s ongoing protests — the largest since 2007 —and attributed it to a realization that the prison’s closing process has stalled.
“The sign was all on the wall: ‘We’re going to be here forever, until we die of old age,’” he said.
Roughly 20 students and faculty members attended the lecture.
“I think it was a really good review of the national security issues we’ve gone through in classes, especially the comparisons between Obama and Bush,” Casey Thompson (COL ’14) said.
“Power Wars: Bush, Obama and the American Presidency after 9/11,” sponsored by the government department, was the fourth annual Professor Walter I. Giles Endowed Seminar in Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties. The purpose of the lecture series is to supplement the academic experience of government students, according to Government Department Chair Michael Bailey.
“The way we extend that kind of experience is … we want to link out to the real practitioners,” Bailey said.